Which way must we communist follow in the imperialist countries in order to carry out the working class to establish the proletarian dictatorship, begin the socialist phase of transformation of the society and contribute to the second wave of the proletarian revolution?
Generally the Subjective Forces of the Socialist Revolution (SFSR) have a spontaneous approach to the struggles. They participate to the “struggles that are present”, do “what they can do”, try to give strength to present struggles. They believe that, struggle by struggle, at the end we shall win: if the number of the struggles grow up, if the number of the workers who join those grow up, if the struggles become more obstinate and resolute (more “militant”). When the SFSR go beyond this spontaneous approach, they put themselves the question of the conquest of the power, of the strategy that they must follow from today to the conquest of the power (5) : “Which path must we follow for reaching the conquest of the power? Which is the general framework on which the strategy to follow in the necessary phases depends? Which is the general trend founding on which we shall be able to do long-term plans and every single operation, distinguish the good from the bad initiatives, understand which classes and political and social forces we can count on in every phase, how much we can count on them, how we can employ the forces that we lead in the better way?”.
The working class must conquer the power and establish the proletarian dictatorship to solve all its problems. Who believe it has to answer what to do for approaching victory, for carrying out step by step the working class to create the necessary conditions in order to establish its power and open the new era of the transformation of the society, the socialist era. To have a right strategy is to answer rightly this question.
This is also an answer, founded on the experience and science of the communist movement, and not only spontaneous, instinctive, of common sense, to the “democratic and parliamentary way to socialism”, to the “way of structural reforms, to the “pacific evolution towards socialism”, to the “gradual convergence between the two systems” and to the other “ways” propagandized by the revisionists in the imperialist countries and that in the last 15 years have shown their utopian character, now also in practice.
According to the spontaneous political activists the frequency and intensity of the struggles, the quantity of workers who share in them and their obstinacy are the starting points. But everyone who thinks about it clearly understands that, under the same conditions, the number and kind of struggles and, first of all, their efficacy, depends on the direction given to our activity. It depends on the way we follow. Every comrade has lived many situations where the workers want to do something but they do not know what. Even if they know it they concretely do not have any mean to do it because they have not early get it. They are not in the condition to do something because they have not early created that condition. The level of mobilization of the popular masses in front of an event is not the spontaneous and casual fruit of many single wills. It is not the fruit of the relations spontaneously established among the popular masses by the role that they carry out in the bourgeois society. Also the popular masses’ consciousness of an event is not the spontaneous and casual fruit of many single wills. Both the mobilization and the consciousness are fruits of the conditions created by the political struggle and by the previous political movement. With a proper line we can modify the number of the struggles, the number of the workers who share in it and their determination, the characteristics of these struggles. To have a proper line means to create an organizational network and agreement channels, to diffuse previously a right orientation, to prepare the struggles properly, to call the right struggles at the right moment, to get victories. If we want to win we must have and practice a right strategy, which is according to the objectives conditions of our struggles. These are starting conditions. They don’t depend on our will and intelligence. We cannot change these conditions with our activity or we can change them only carrying out a proper activity for some time.
We communists are reconstructing the communist party amidst a phase of instability and upsetting of the existing order. We call this a “developing revolutionary situation”. It will last for many other years, whatever be the initiatives of individuals, groups and parties. In this situation, even if in general and schematic terms, we communists must define the way to follow in the next years, from now till when we shall establish the proletarian dictatorship. We must define our strategy. A SFSR who does not do it, even if it declares to work to the reconstruction of the communist party, is off the road or anyhow gives a restricted contribution.
Since the times of the Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848) the communists asked themselves which was the way, the general direction to follow for accomplishing the task to lead the working class to the conquest of the power.
In 1848 and for some years after the communists believed that the proletariat could conquer the power during a popular revolution, like the bourgeoisie did against the feudal forces. By its nature the bourgeois society is perpetually a ground for countless struggles of interests among classes, groups and individuals. Sometimes these struggles “resonate”, become acute, form coalitions till they divide the society in two contrasting camps and explode in a conflict that involves the entire society. “It would happen that a minority, constituted by a proletarian party able to leader the movement and to express coherently the economical, political and cultural needs of the proletariat, will be able to lead the majority of the people to the victory against the bourgeoisie, fighting against the bourgeois minority, in alliance with whom the first phase of the revolution was fought” (6) .
In 1895 Engels acknowledged that history denied this conception shared also by him and by Marx. The history had taught that “at least until a certain point” the working class “had to elaborate the instruments and the conditions of its power within the bourgeois society itself, in order to overthrow it.”
In the writing to which we make here reference (F. Engels, Introduction to Class Struggles in France from 1848 to 1850 of K. Marx, 1895) Engels explained that the socialist revolution is different from any other previous revolution in history. All the revolutions were revolution of minorities, also when the majority of the people participated in them actively. It was always the replacement of the domination of an exploiting class with that of another one. A ruling minority was overthrown and another one took its place. On the contrary by its nature the socialist revolution requires not only the active participation of the majority of the people in the overthrowing of the old power, but it also needs its active participation in the creation of the new power and in the social transformation over which it presides. Moreover between the workers’ mass and every exploiting minority there is a qualitative difference that doesn’t exist between one and the other exploiting minority. The approach of the workers’ mass to the power is even less of the same kind of the succession of a bourgeois party to another in the direction of the State. The new power doesn’t consist in taking possession of the old State and of its institutions, and giving a different direction and new laws to its activity. It is necessary to destroy the old State, its institutions and its system and replace it with a new State made to measure of the new ruling class and of its objectives, with its own institutions and systems. Therefore it involves an adequate preparation to this role of the majority of the people, an accumulation of the revolutionary forces that must be done within this society, while the bourgeoisie’s power persists, and not after the conquest of the power.
A part of this work was done, as Engels said in 1895. Twenty years later Lenin said that, in the greatest European imperialist countries, “in the last third of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, during the “pacific” period of the cruelest capitalist slavery and of the fastest capitalist progress, the Second International carried out its part of useful preparatory work, of organization of the popular masses” (Lenin, The Situation and the Tasks of the Socialist International , 1st November 1914). In many European countries it led millions of proletarian to unite in parties, to set themselves some common objectives and, as a collective subject and thanks to their number, to assert the same political rights that the bourgeoisie stated assured to each (male) individual, but that no proletarian was individually able to assert, owing to its economic condition. The proletarian party succeeded in asserting those rights and exerting on the political life of the country the influence that every bourgeois was able to gain thanks to its richness and its role in the civil society. But yet in 1895 Engels stated that the bourgeoisie of the European countries would violate itself its own legality, as the following events abundantly proved. He announced the passing of the bourgeois political system from the bourgeois democracy system to the preventive counter revolution system. He stated also that, on the side of the communist party, the accumulation of the revolutionary forces would no more go on mainly in the electoral and parliamentary struggles nor generally within the existing regulations.
Therefore it was impossible that the working class established its power as the bourgeoisie did. It was also impossible to point to conquer the power by the electoral and parliamentary way. Some forms of aggregation, organization and ideological and political unification of the working class and of the popular masses could be accomplished, but they could no more be considered adequate to the task that the proletariat must accomplish. They are the forms carried out around the parliamentary struggles and the chronic struggles of interests, completely congenital and physiologic to the bourgeois society, which gave rise to the formation of electoral parties, trade unions, cooperatives and other mass organizations. But Engels did not say how the communist party should have to answer to the transformation of the bourgeois political regime that would put offside the way until then done in order to accumulate revolutionary forces within the bourgeois society (7) . In the article above quoted in his turn Lenin added that “the Communist International has the task to organize the forces of the proletariat for the revolutionary assault against the capitalist governments, for the civil war against the bourgeoisie of all the countries, for the political power, for the victory of socialism!”. But he didn’t specify how the new International could realize this task in the imperialist countries, very different from Russia.
The first Communist International did not establish the dictatorship of proletariat in Europe but, during the long crisis that upset the continent in the first half of the last century, it did a lot to this end. The conceptions and the methods with which the Communist International tried to direct the events of that period, the way it used the available forces in the struggle, the results of its activity are a precious experimental material. We communists must use it for working out the conception and defining the methods and rules with witch in our turn we face the same task during this new general crisis which since almost 30 years shakes our countries, bring into question the systems of each country and the international relations and eliminates the conquests of the popular masses of our countries one after the other. Shortly we must use the experience of the first Communist International to elaborate our strategy that aims at the establishment of proletariat’s dictatorship (8) .
The balance of the experiences of the first Communist International carries some comrades to conclusions that do not clarify and arrange the events even if they are different among them. Those conclusions not only do not direct and stimulate the work that we must do, but also more or less hinder both the understanding and the practical work and demoralize our forces. All these conclusions underestimate the revolutionary capacities of the working class and of the popular masses of the imperialist countries.
Those comrades do not want to recognize that the conceptions and methods of the first Communist International was not adequate to the pursued aim. Therefore they must fall back on the thesis that the working class of the imperialist countries does not want the socialism, or that in the imperialist countries the establishment of socialism is impossible. At least those comrades are reduced to ignore what to do except to hope in the revolutionary movement of the oppressed countries or in the luck. Generally these balances are invalidated by empiricism (9) . On the contrary we must do a balance based on the facts and carried out by the light of dialectical materialism. This balance brings to the conclusion that the path to the conquest of power, the form of socialist revolution, is the long lasting revolutionary popular war also in the imperialist countries (10) .
Differently from the Second International, in its experience the Communist International kept in mind the qualitative difference between the struggles of interests (chronic and congenital to the bourgeois society) and the struggles for socialism. But it constantly opposed, as elements mutually exclusive, pacific and violent struggle, work within and outside the bourgeois society, alliance and struggle, antagonistic and not antagonistic contradictions, contradictions between popular masses and imperialist bourgeoisie and contradictions among groups of the ruling class, claiming and revolutionary politics, legal and clandestine organization. On the contrary as a matter of fact these elements are a unity of opposites. The strategy of the long lasting revolutionary popular war recognizes this unity of opposites and develops both the terms of the unity. It makes up with them the working class’ struggle in order to undermine and after all eliminate the imperialist bourgeoisie’s power and establish its power. The chronic (structural, physiological) conflicts of the imperialist society oppose the members of the popular masses (as individuals, collective working groups, categories, classes) to the imperialist bourgeoisie. But in themselves those conflicts do not unite the members of the popular masses in a front antagonist to the bourgeois society. In fact the bourgeois society involves each member of the popular masses in repeated and chronic conflicts with the capitalists and their State. Contemporarily each member of the popular masses is subjected to the ideological and moral direction and influence of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois society smooths and erodes the antagonistic side that on the other hand it creates and recreates continuously.
Then the communist party must collect and strengthen in proper institutions the antagonistic side that exists and repeatedly resurfaces in the bourgeois society. It must collect and unite in organizations all the antagonism chronically generated by the bourgeois society. We must educate to antagonism all those who are induced to turn into this path by their experience. We must strengthen their antagonism with the force of the organization and action. The party must manage to exercise all its influence overall, although it is external and opposite of the bourgeois society. Shortly, in every imperialist country the communist party must set about promoting, organizing and leading the popular masses’ war against the imperialist bourgeoisie. It is not the question for the communist parties to declare a not existing war. On the contrary the communist party must simply acknowledge the ongoing undeclared war and it must lead the popular masses themselves to face it in a more and more adequate way.
The second general crisis of capitalism and the connected developing revolutionary situation are the context of the ruin of the present society and of the struggle for the establishment of socialism in the imperialist countries. Already now the imperialist bourgeoisie carries out an undeclared war against the popular masses of the imperialist countries in order to increase the value of its capital. This war crushes and in various ways spiritually and physically tortures the great part of the people of the imperialist countries. This war itself destroys the regulations and the practices which regulate as habits the popular masses’ subjection in the imperialist countries. Since the last summer (2001) the bosses of the US imperialist group give a direction to the events that confirm in the clearest way that the popular masses of the imperialist countries are the principal target of the imperialist groups. Besides it is clear that until they will succeed in keeping subjected the popular masses of the imperialist countries they probably will also succeed in holding the people of the oppressed countries at bay. They do it dividing them, setting one against the other, bombing the indomitable people and terrorizing. On the other hand the imperialist groups can be the world policemen only establishing growing police States and reactionary mobilization in the imperialist countries. This is the process of the general crisis of capitalism. It develops in various extraordinary ways and frequent changes. It goes on with ups and downs, in a very irregular and differentiated way. Periods of a particularly cruel oppression alternate with period almost of ceasefire. Periods of acute oppression against wide sectors of the popular masses alternate with periods when the worse blows are concentrated against restricted sectors. The bourgeoisie attacks now a group and then the other. Presently every individual, group and category of the popular masses reacts as it can in an open order. The bourgeoisie has many instruments in order to divide, to blow a group after another, to hinder the concentration of the classes and of the damaged groups, to set one against the other. This process will go on until the present general crisis will end or with a socialist revolution or with a new inter imperialist war that will establish a new world order for capitalism (an event that we can not absolutely exclude). Therefore every communist party must transform by stages this ongoing undeclared war. At present the popular masses only suffer this war: communist party must transform this ongoing war in a war that the popular masses carry out in a more and more organized way, more and more united and taking the initiative.
The experience of the Resistance against Nazi-Fascism in Italy and France shows that also in the most developed imperialist countries the revolutionary war is possible. All depends on how much the popular masses share in it. Each communist party must understand the undeclared war in progress deeper and deeper, collect the forms of resistance opposed by the masses, elaborate them, socialize and bring them to a higher level. It must combine each kind of struggle carried out by the masses, legal and violent, open and clandestine struggle. It must find the way to make more and more combine all the groups, categories and classes of the popular masses in an united front. Obviously each party will have to learn how to apply the general laws of the long lasting revolutionary popular war to its own particular country and to each particular situation. This process will surely be long, winding and painful. The more backward is the political situation the more the party must lever on the particular.
The strategy of the long lasting revolutionary popular war is a strategy for the transformation of the working class in leading class, for driving the popular masses from the bourgeoisie’s direction to the working class’ direction, for establishing the proletariat’s dictatorship, sweeping away the bourgeoisie’s dictatorship. The popular revolutionary war is a special kind of war, different from anyone we have seen till now. The working class will carry it out in its own way. Within this war the military aspect is essential, but the importance of its role greatly varies stage by stage. Only the practical development will allows us to define progressively better the tasks to accomplish.
Generally now we can determine the following points.
1. The party will have to individuate the phases to arrive at the establishment of the proletariat’s dictatorship, discovering the right targets and lines for each phase (that is to say, targets and lines proper to the objective development of the contradictions), and organizing itself in the way adequate to realize them.
2. The party will have to mobilize each popular masses’ class and group to defend in the better way each its particular interest against the imperialist bourgeoisie, and to utilize in any way possible the chronic struggles of interests carried out in the bourgeois society and its institutions, as an auxiliary aspect of the revolutionary process (11) .
3. The party will have to identify itself with the organized vanguard of the working class, driving the working class to act accordingly to the lines and the targets indicated by the party itself and to assume the direction of the popular masses (12) .
4. The party will have to move in every occasion the masses’ most advanced parts
so to open the path of the struggle to the backward part: this goes radicalized only
giving practical expression to the anti capitalist trend that oppression and exploitation make arise (13) .
5. Staying outside the bourgeois political relations the party (that must be necessarily clandestine) must build and direct a front as wide as possible of classes and political forces to realize the targets of every phase, promoting the greatest organization of the masses in public and clandestine, legal and illegal, pacific and fighting organizations.
6. The party must in any way possible look after the development of the revolutionary armed forces led by the party. The armed struggle has a decisive and conclusive role to realize the popular masses’ role and establish the proletarian dictatorship (“the power rises from the gun barrel”).
In short the question is to develop the potential of the long lasting revolutionary popular war, constructing a wide front of revolutionary forces and classes around the party which has a relation of unity and struggle with each part of the front itself (14) .
Mao Tse-tung elaborated the experience of the Russian and Chinese revolutions and drew out the most advanced theory of the long lasting revolutionary popular war. He systematically developed the science of this long lasting revolutionary popular war.
It is the most complete theory of the form of the proletarian revolution, of the path for seizing the power that the working class must beat also in the imperialist countries. It moreover enlightens and clears the experience of the first International Communist. The passages and the results of the history of the first Communist International cannot be understood without that theory, while by its light they become very instructive.
5. Here I mean spontaneity and not “spontaneism”. The first is a positive beginning condition of growth. First every individual does what the other already do. Then he begins to think how he can do better what he is doing and what he must do. Then he comes out from spontaneity and begins to act more and more consciously and after due consideration. On the contrary the spontaneism is the theory according to which we must remain at the primitive stage. According to it we must do what we are used to do and what we happen to do. We must not elaborate a science in the field where we are operating, try to foresee the circumstances of the fight, draw plans and do projects, create the more adequate conditions, make alliances, find the more advantageous paths, etc. Spontaneism is also the behavior of those who do not want to think over, use grey matter in the struggle, of those who only want to act.
7. In the letter of the 8 march 1895, where he defends its Introduction to the Class Struggle in France from 1848 to 1850 from the censorship respectful of legality by the party’s leaders, Engels writes: “If you do not want to make understand to those of the government that we wait to rouse a revolution only because we are not enough strong to do it by ourselves alone and the army is not yet infected by our ideas, then why, my darling, every day you boast about the gigantic progresses and the successes of the party? They know very well that we are strongly marching towards victory and that within some year they will not be able to offer resistance to us. That’s why they want to eliminate us now, but they do not know how to do it. Our speeches cannot change anything. They know all this as well as us and they know as well that when we shall seize the power we shall use it how it suits us and not them... Legality until when and so much it suits us, but no Ĺlegality at all costs’, neither by words” (F. Engels, Complete Works , vol. 50).
9. The undervaluation of the revolutionary potentialities of the working class, of the proletariat and of the popular masses permeates the conception of many SFRS. See the positions expressed by Il futuro [ The future , n.d.t.], the review of the ex - MPA [Anticapitalistic Proletarian Movement, n.d.t.], now become ANA [Anticapitalistic National Assembly]. They say that the working class is an enormous worker aristocracy (see Rapporti Sociali , n. 23-24, “First of all, clean up our heads!”). The position of the group Rossoperaio is another example (see their Statement “Let’s oppose the popular war up to communism to the “global war” of the imperialism”, published in “ Rossoperaio ”, n. 12, October 2001). Analyzing the attacks of the 11 of September at Washington and New York and their effects, they do not see that the popular masses of the imperialist countries are within the targets of the imperialist groups. This position is connected with the thesis that today in the world the principal contradiction is that one between oppressed and imperialist countries. A thesis not reconcilable, for who deeply think over the questions, with the thesis that Maoism is the third higher stage of the communist thought, thesis that Rossoperaio says to share. These conceptions are empiricists. They found themselves on how many struggles and which kind of them are carried out by the working class of the imperialist countries, without enlighten these data with a theory explaining origin, shows its contradictory state and then shows also how to act starting from them and from the potentialities within them.
10. With regard to it see On the Form of the Proletarian Revolution , in La Voce , n. 1, page 23 and following. Also the PCE(r) [(reconstituted) Spanish Communist Party, n.d.t.] reached this conclusion in its balance of the story of Communist International Spanish section. This balance has been published in Italy by the Rapporti Sociali Editions with the title The War of Spain, the PCE and the Communist International (1997).
11. The militarists assert that the struggle for the particular and immediate interests averts (deviates) the masses from the revolution. We communist assert the contrary. During the general crisis of capitalism, as a rule, the bourgeoisie damages the immediate and particular interests of all the classes of the popular masses, even if it does in various measures and times. Therefore, the working class must mobilize, support and lead every group and class of the popular masses to struggle also for its specific particular immediate interests again the imperialist bourgeoisie. This struggle can mobilize also the most backward strata of the masses on a great scale and make them flow in the struggle led by the communists towards the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship. If the party does not accomplish this task, it leaves the road open to the reactionary mobilization.
12. We must not mainly carry the workers to share the ideas of their communist vanguard and to proclaim the same targets. We must mainly carry the workers to struggle for the targets and according to the lines indicated by their vanguards.
14. The circumstances decide which of the two opposites (the unity or the struggle) is principal in every moment. The party can direct both the allied and the hostile forces, if it knows the laws of the contradiction to which the hostile armies submit. Many times Mao showed how the communist party carried the hostile armies to get to the trap.